The recent arrival of an 81 series wide-belt precision grinding machine at metal polishing and finishing specialist Van Geenen has had an immediate impact. Through improved capacity, productivity and overall capability, the Rijssen, Netherlands-based company is opening up new business opportunities.
Text & images by Timesavers
The business began back in 1977 when Arnold van Geenen and his sons Nico and Gerrit joined forces to provide a hand polishing service, with the founders having to sell their cars to buy the vital tools required to get started. Today, Van Geenen B.V. Metaalfinishing is under the guidance of Nico’s son, Bart van Geenen, and the company operates from 5000m2 premises, housing the latest in polishing and grinding technology. The most recent arrival is an investment in the Timesavers 81 Series grinding machine, which places the business firmly in the 21st century. The company specialises in stainless steel and other exotic materials. Its emphasis is on producing sheet and tube material to the highest quality in terms of surface finish (up to Mirror 8 grade), with greater efficiency and consistent technical quality.
“Hand polishing remains a critical part of our business, but automation has been central to our development since our first investment in a Grindingmaster/Timesavers back in 1984. We are always looking to improve efficiency, and our investment in automation has boosted productivity,” says Managing Director Bart van Geenen. “As such, our partnership with Timesavers continues with this major investment in the 81 Series machine, an investment that driven both by the heart – my father’s desire for manufacturing technology – and the head, with me focused on the commercial potential.”
Quality and relationships
Van Geenen prides itself on the quality of its work and the strength of its relationships with customers. This combination has opened up new business opportunities for its polished sheet and tube products across markets, including architectural, tanks, and food processing. “We always could do things that our competitors can’t, and to continue that, we recognised it was time to move into precision grinding.” The scale of the 81 series will also future-proof production at Van Geenen. At an overall length of 25 meters, the machine has a capacity to grind sheet or plate from 0.15 mm up to 100 mm; with stock removal rates of up to 0.2 mm/pass achievable with a table size of 2.1 m by 8.5 m to an accuracy of 0.02 mm and 0.3Ra and less.
The 81 Series is already delivering significant time savings for van Geenen compared with existing processes. For example, producing a 4m long 2 m wide by 20 mm thick sheet for a customer in the food processing industry, which required a 0.8Ra surface finish used to take between 4-5 hours to complete, this is now achieved in one hour on the 81 series. “With the investment in the Timesavers 81 series, our hourly rate has increased, but this is justified as our throughput is much greater and lead times much shorter, and that level of efficiency is vital when putting forward proposals to customers. We are also aware that none of our competitors in Europe have this capability,” says Bart van Geenen.
“The 81 Series is a genuine alternative to conventional processes and it is my role to convince customers that the process is viable and meets their requirements. Thankfully, customers are open to innovation and are willing to listen and try new processes,” says Bart. “I recently quoted a customer for some polished titanium plate, within five minutes of delivering the quote I received the order!”